07 May Intellectual Property Enforcement: Creating Prosperity and Growth by Protecting IP Rights Abroad
Intellectual Property (IP) rights are crucial in sustaining the competitiveness of innovation-based economies like the United States. Whether in the form of patents, copyrights, trademarks, or trade secrets,1 intellectual property encourages innovation and attracts investment that creates new jobs and speeds up the rate of economic growth. Although not highly visible, it is an important engine of prosperity in this country. IP impacts consumers, who in the long run benefit from decreased costs in health care, agricultural products, communications, and transportation. IP is also becoming central to business models in more industries than ever before, driving the revenues of software, media, pharmaceutical, and retail enterprises to name a few.
Though its role is increasingly critical in securing the economic well-being of the United States, IP enforcement often falls through the cracks in the international arena, especially in developing countries, where the market for pirated and counterfeit goods is large and where there are few obvious incentives to crack down on it. However, developed and developing nations alike suffer economically by not enforcing IP protection. The U.S. alone loses billions of dollars and thousands of jobs per year due to the lack of enforcement of IP rights abroad.2 By not enforcing IP standards, developing nations lose out as well, as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) lags in countries where enforcement is minimal. While FDI flows to countries where high returns can be generated, the type of FDI a country attracts is largely determined by its IP regime.
In order to strengthen our economy, the U.S. needs to rally international and domestic support for IP protection in the industries where it matters most: software, media, pharmaceuticals, and retail. The U.S. also needs to use economic incentives to persuade developing countries that it is in their best interest to protect IP.
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